A blueprint for a new offshore wind farm maintenance vessel has been unveiled which is claimed could solve the logistical problem of carrying out simultaneous multiple turbine maintenance.
The Sea-Wind WMV vessel design is for a mothership which would remain stationed in deepwater wind farms, providing a safe haven for catamaran workboats to carry engineers to service the turbines.
The ship has come from the drawing boards of Offshore Ship Designers, and its managing director Neil Patterson said: “The Sea-Wind design is a submersible dock ship with a large floodable dock accessible from the stern. It will provide accommodation for wind turbine engineers, service personnel, ships and support crew and can support helicopter operations, in addition to its workboat deployment capability.
“Crew change and supplies will be carried out using a dedicated support vessel with the option to carry out crew changes by using large helicopters normally associated with servicing offshore oil installations.
Mr Patterson said the Sea-Wind could service up to 45 turbines per day in waves of up to 2.5 m high. By remaining on site rather than returning to port between maintenance visits, the Sea-Wind would reduce transit time and energy getting to and from the fields, and maximise more swiftly good weather windows.
“That means savings in cost and energy used for maintenance, reduction of non-operational downtime and increased turbine availability,” he added.
Offshore Ship Designers, which is an Anglo-Dutch company with its UK base in Montrose, is at an advanced stage of talks with a European shipping company and UK shipmanagement firm to deliver the concept to operators who will be building Round 3 wind farms around the UK and European coast.
Most of these deepwater wind farms will be miles offshore, some up to 110 km, and each of the thousands of turbines require a routine maintenance programme to be carried out in addition to any replacement component maintenance due to wear and tear.
Currently, wind farms closer to shore are serviced by fast catamaran and mono-hull work boats which go out from the shore in good weather.
“The sheer distance and exposed location of offshore Round 3 wind farms makes service from a port difficult, expensive, risky and time wasting,” said Mr Patterson.
“We have taken the best experience of dock ships and their use in military and commercial situations and combined it with our extensive experience in designing offshore support vessels to devise a ship which will be able to remain safely on site and deploy the workboat catamarans in significant wave heights, while providing a safe haven in bad weather.”
The Sea-Wind vessels, the largest of which will be around 187m long, will be fitted with energy efficient diesel-electric power generation and propulsion systems and will use a number of renewable energy devices to supplement the power generation and support systems.